Access Open Hours

August 21, 2019 1:00-3:00 PM in G603

This year, we’re highlighting accessibility best practices on the web, specifically working on the OpenLab! This includes usability, providing content in multiple formats (text, audio, video, etc.), and providing descriptions for users using screen readers, among many other strategies. We’ll be running our Open Pedagogy series on this theme all year, so please join us for these more discussion-based events!


For these Open Hours (8/21/19), participants will have the chance to work on developing their own courses and projects, but we’ll also be talking through some simple accessibility protocols to incorporate into your OpenLab sites. 


Defining Access

Scholars in disability studies and pedagogy center a broad definition of access: instead of requiring that students disclose access needs to an on-campus disability services office, scholars recommend integrating accessibility in the syllabus and day-to-day classroom management. 


Accessible Syllabus provides a bounty of possible strategies to practice inclusive learning, including some alternatives to traditional deadlines, developing grading contracts with students, and offering students resources in the form of an inclusive learning statement. 


The OpenLab team is committed to sharing best practices in sharing and collaborating in digital spaces, and has developed a Summary of Accessibility on the OpenLab. It’s important to remember that when we share content on the OpenLab, we don’t want to create additional barriers for students.


Digital Access

The web offers formal options for including content, including posting audio or video versions of lectures and announcements, allowing users to modify colors and font sizes to accommodate low-vision needs, and other options for making use of multimedia formats. However, it’s important to also include transcripts and/or captions alongside multimedia formats in order to best serve users with different kinds of access needs. 


Even simple choices, like including hyperlinks in the course syllabus or on the homepage, can help demonstrate a commitment to interactive and independent engagement with site content by allowing students to visit linked sites at their own pace rather than listing blurbs for resources directly on the syllabus. The OpenLab’s Help section offers additional support for reading ease and accessibility when composing in digital spaces. 


Accessible Syllabus includes an in-depth list of strategies for making text on your site user-friendly, including recommendations for “thinking about learning disabilities that affect reading, such as dyslexia” as well as simple measures to improve readability, including using bold typeface to highlight important information.  


City Tech’s Library has also incorporated a focus on accessibility into the professional development faculty members participate in to develop open educational resources. The materials gathered for the Introduction to Accessibility Module that specific group are useful to anyone developing materials to share on the OpenLab. 


What is access? group activity

When thinking of the terms “access/ability” or “accommodations,” what comes to mind?

Jot down a few terms/examples.

Share with a partner, then share with the group!

What common ideas about accessibility do we share? Where do our ideas diverge?



Accessible Syllabus

Summary of Accessibility on the OpenLab

Reading Ease and Accessibility

Introduction to Accessibility: A Module for OER Faculty

One thought on “Access Open Hours”

  1. Just an addition for faculty finalizing Fall semester course planning!

    There is new language that must be added to all City Tech syllabi:

    “Notice to Students—

    Qualified students with disabilities, under applicable federal, state and city laws, seeking reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments must contact the Center for Student Accessibility for information on City Tech’s policies and procedures to obtain such services. Students with questions on eligibility or the need for temporary disability services should also contact the Center at: The Center for Student Accessibility, 300 Jay Street room L-237, 718 260 5143.

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